Monday, August 11, 2008


A Tale of Two Charts

More Reasons Not To Take The Candidates' Budget Proposals Too Seriously

Make Diplomacy, Not War

Anne-Marie Slaughter on China;

One of the best books I read on China was Susan Shirk’s “Fragile Superpower,” which argues that for all its energy and emerging power, China is fragile precisely because its political system is just one layer deep. If the Communist Party were to lose power, there is no back-up in place — only the specter of in-fighting fragmentation, chaos, and even civil war. Which is precisely why the government is so worried to stamp out any spark that could potentially ignite wider unrest.

The fragility extends to the economy. If ordinary Chinese suddenly cannot get jobs, or can’t get jobs that will allow them to put food on the table or gas in their motorbikes in an era of rising food and energy prices, there are no years of experience with the business cycle of expansion and recession to cushion the shock of unemployment and belt-tightening. Our current development has happened over decades, fairly steadily since the Depression, but with plenty of bumps along the way. Those psychological layers, just like the layers of our infrastructure, create resilience and strength.

These Olympics, Americans will compete as hard as we possibly can for the gold. Those of our athletes who lose, however, will know that they or their successors will have the chance to compete again; that the nation’s honor does not rest once and for all on their shoulders. America has hosted the Olympics before and will again.

For China, the veneer is much thinner and the stakes are much higher. Beijing has built fantastic Olympic buildings and will put on a dazzling show to tell all the world that it has resumed its rightful place on the global stage. But for all China’s accomplishments, and they are accomplishments, the architecture, infrastructure, economy and even the political system are only one layer deep.

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